Samuel Testa, Carrie Testa, and Cindi Goodsell

Recorded October 31, 2010 Archived October 31, 2010 01:24:27
0:00 / 0:00
Id: SFB001044


Samuel Testa, 85, and his wife Carrie Testa, 87, talk with their daughter Cindi Goodsell, 43, about their lives.

Subject Log / Time Code

Memories of childhood
S recalls his career working
S and Carrie talk about their Jewish identity.
S and Carrie talk about their values.
S and Carrie talk about their family.


  • Samuel Testa
  • Carrie Testa
  • Cindi Goodsell

Recording Location

San Francisco StoryBooth


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00:09 My name is Cindy goodsell and 43 years old and today is October 31st, 2010 a method Jewish Museum in San Francisco with my parents.

00:22 Saul and Carrie Testa

00:25 My name is Samuel Testa. My age is 85 years old today is Halloween 10-31-10.

00:37 We located and talkin about this in San Francisco at the Jewish Museum and my relationship to the question here is father.

00:50 My name is Keri Teske.

00:55 My age is 87.

01:00 And today is Halloween, which is something to look forward to and location. I'm at the Jewish Museum and

01:14 Samuel Testa is my husband and and Cindy is my last of five children.

01:26 So I wanted to interview you about talking about when you grew up, you know, where you grew up and where you are today. And so I am I think my first question for you is when you were growing up with immigrant parents in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

01:49 What did you think about mom what your life was going to be? Like when you grow up? What did you anticipate from where you came from to where you are today?

02:01 I remember that when we lived on the 5th floor and I think I was about five years old well know maybe four and I wanted to have friends and there was some children that were in the hallway and one of the one of the children was a boy and he said that when he gets married, he's going to have a bride with a a diamond dress and I said I'm going to have a diamond dress and I really wanted to be the important appointed one.

02:43 But by the time we played a little longer he hit me in the head with a with a metal horse and I went back into my

02:55 Apartment how I crying? So that was what we did. I wanted to have a friend who thought that I was special.

03:08 Dad worried about you when you were when you were young. What were you thinking about your life, but I'm going to go back to go back to before I was 6 years old. My memory is very very faint.

03:21 When I was going up, I would normally be sent out into the street to my mother want to get rid of me at that time cuz she had told me two kids to feed and do so many things that she had they want anybody under a feet is a city street and she would do I would go on the streets and playing ball will play what if I could play with and I will try to find some friends when I did after a while. I got friends and I had real what you call Buddy's today and there was a recall on Friends good friends.

03:54 And I never I never thought of what I want to do beyond that believe it or not. I thought it was every day or the next day came, I would play again and hopefully had a good time. There were some point in both of your lives where you had some ambition to what you were going to be in your what and when you grow up. I mean, I would have to think because you grew up and kind of this Depression era that you had some idea about what what was next.

04:27 But a little older may be one of my date and I never even thought I was poor. I thought that this the way life was all about because everywhere I went and that my neighbors were lived. Everybody was like that. So we thought that was a way to get we never thought of what we're poor or rich or whatever. We do doctors were Rich cuz they were probably made $100 a week. Like I said, and we and I haven't died that with my father May cuz I don't think I ever made anything except for what will forgave him.

04:54 But then eventually I became a businessman because my mother started to make sure son, which is sesame seeds candy.

05:03 Adipocytes in pieces and put them on a big trade triple high and made me go on the streets is going to Street Shelby solely. My name is to all the time and I do want to know why I what am I got a lot of stuff that she showed me out the door and with a tray of my hand and then next thing, you know, I'm walking up and down the street. So I'm so Sondra Penny Penny nice hold of you here in that finally. I would come back with maybe two or three dollars without if I was lucky and so on and then she told I told different things like Wrigley's chewing gum out of a box rebooting a wholesale place and ice cream at Coney Island on the beach. I would have pretty pretty busy guy when I was young.

05:49 And I will go with other things later. I think I talked enough about that. What's up Mom? What how when you were imagining your life and your diamond dress.

06:01 How

06:03 How did that how did your life turn out the same and how did it turn out different?

06:09 Did you ever get the diamonds in the diamond dress and then how how would from thinking that you were going to be a princess when you were little?

06:18 How did the girl in the Family Soul and and my mother used to do long curls? So what so I looked very fancy and I had white stockings when everyone else had like ten stockings. They will white cotton stockings, but I went to school but dog.

06:47 What else?

06:50 I forgot. How did it turn out? I am really interested in when you started out your life and then you moved into being an adult and then being an older person. Like, how did it when you reflect on your life. Well, how was it different? How was it the same as you imagined? And how was it different than you imagined?

07:13 Well

07:16 First of all, I was high.

07:20 For quite some time. I worked as a Diamond Cutter and run in and really it was very much like a factory job, but it made a lot of money and I had a friend and went to all kinds of places like a Glide gets Indian and all kinds of fancy stuff. So I felt like I was top of the Heap and John went to play Zedd.

07:50 Went to a lot of nice places. So that was that was very joyful that I would never allow her to the circus to plays. But once I got married, is that what you're asking Scandal all of it? Okay, if I could you know that you were going to have five children.

08:13 No, did you anticipate having a very good family was I had a child was a boy and when one he was the only boy I figured he really is Lonesome. He needs another another brother. So then I had Charron of when he was about six years old and I thought she was going to be a boy, but you was a girl and then when one night when Jill left from Berkeley

08:51 I felt lonesome for her because you know, she was my oldest child. So

09:00 Anyway, so then I had had me had you you was supposed to be a boy. All right, but I had a lot of time for you because the the other people Jill went to Berkeley Jackie pretty soon got married and a shower and I don't remember what I guess Sharon was out there working. So I had my own child like you have your own special doll to play with while you know, while you have time when I think about having my own children like to my own two children, I can't imagine.

09:43 Not having had them, you know, it might can't have I can't imagine my life without them. Is that how you felt about having each one of your children like so it can't imagine not having the third one or the fourth one by life was devoted to you know, my children and the household and all that. But when you were young when you went to play school then the high road to a load in college and now I love that you did that with Jackie, right?

10:21 Whoever came along I did it with Jack and then when Jackie was not in the class, I had to her mother-in-law in the class one time and we did a special class where they tell you how to live your life and someone wanted to

10:47 If someone wanted to say and what if you don't get married and you just live with someone and and her mother-in-law stood up and said no way so Dad. I want to ask you that same kind of thing is that when you were going along in your life not just from a really young age. But like as you were becoming an adult and kind of setting out with where you got to make the rule your own rules turn out when I was trying to sell all the stuff. I realize that you can make a little bit of money here and there and little bit of money really was a little bit of money working a lot, but I always thought that

11:34 It'll be nice to have more because you if you want to go. Anyway, you have to have a few dollars here and there and so are you as I got older I got a little wiser. I figured okay.

11:47 To get anywhere. I have to get some education some sort. So I went to school and I love school. I went to every day that I miss the days in grade school at all. In fact, no matter what the holiday was I went to school with open.

12:00 And if I'm that point on that went to high school and high school if it's okay. I want to trade I want to be a pilot really but the become a plant you have to have perfect eyesight and I didn't have my eyes were halfway gone already, but I need to be a mechanic.

12:14 Then I went out in the field after I graduated it was doing a war and I couldn't get in the Army Navy or Airforce. They won't take me and after even try and listing so I decide okay, if I can't get in I'll go with them. So I joined the overseas people that went out to work for the army or navy or the Air Force and I went to work for the Air Force and I went to Hawaii on a boat, right? I was on a ship, of course the ocean and it took me probably about two weeks to get there. You know the submarines. So anyway, we got there and I stay there a year repair your place and then I couldn't stand the pain was too confining that we aren't really small and it was I think I'm field.

13:02 And I decided I'd better come home one years enough for me. So I said okay you turn it up and come back and they shipped me back or the Chevy back or is it back on the same kind of ship with Wounded people soldiers which was terrible and we went through a typhoon, which was a scary see my whole life.

13:23 And that we finally came at about the best part of my getting back was when we went under the Golden Gate Bridge the people on the bridge with cheering us if I would not even a soldier nothing. But anyway, and then we talked and appear. I'm not sure what time we're up here 39. So when that area is so long ago and we got there there was bands playing Welcome to San Francisco over here with so when I put my heart was pounding when I get off the way they walk down to my Gangplank, whatever and then they try to be loose now here I am. So I advise me I didn't have my duffle bag that ship to back me up collect go to my mother never forgave me for that.

14:07 So I hitchhiked from the from San Francisco to LA if I mail the across the country to I didn't know that. Wow. Well, I have those secrets are there and then I got back to me. I'll call you besides OK not on here. What do I do if your Michael, you know, it's kind of strange when you're looking for somebody is controlling you like the government controlling you working out everyday and now you're free to do whatever you want and you don't know what to do, even though I wasn't mechanic.

14:40 So fucking with your mother and father.

14:50 So when I came back to Leo my brother-in-law my sister's husband. So I got a job for you. So Shaggy fellow his name is Jackie had to get a repair shop. You need to mechanic I can okay. I'll take the job. What the hell I didn't say save me a lot of looking around. I'll tell you and so I took the job and I was happy that very happy and I work for Jake is about maybe a year until my brother. Joe says you want to become a Milkman my milk, man. I know how to work a bunch of Milkman underwear. I don't want to look out. I don't know what nobody wants you have to do is any hard to tell me what I have to do. I don't want don't sound too bad, but I don't want to quit this job. I'll tell you what, I'm doing work. You heard this story a thousand times. I know.

15:34 But anyway, I I went I said I'll do I'll go there or try it out and the job was at night. So I said, okay. What time do I go as you go in at 1 in the morning? Okay with the one in the morning or your own life that I am I date you want to rent in Jiggy? So what did during the day for 2 weeks for the after 2 weeks? I can't take this no more. What's your motivation funny or was your motivation was just the door again to do something at B&B wanted to know what the funny thing it's not the money. So what the money was part of this but it wasn't like being demanding money if I want the man when I would have to go rob a bank or something, but that was kind of petty larceny stuff that was being paid to me. But I enjoy doing things to do. I'm going to wake up in the morning. I will go in somewhere what people appreciated your little bit. I had jobs where people took you as a like a slave and I worked on the cause and that would read online free to see if I'm still alive under there.

16:32 If I go to the bathroom and smoke it where you can smoke here and Bob like that kind of stuff. So when I work for Jacob was kind of happy that I was pretty much in charge of everything. So and I went to work for Joanne. Joy with Jose company is a Milkman and I got was a slave job, of course at work day and night over there for something like 20 years and will cover the practically so

17:02 Is that what you expected? So let's go back to that was what you kind of expected for your life. Was it were you fulfilling that was that what you were like to have a goal and then you met the goal big is Dredd believe it or not when I was 18 19 years old, but not make it make it the next 20 20 years old. I didn't have a girlfriend. I never had a girlfriend who I thought I had a girlfriend that was just like tomorrow or whatever and I catch myself. I'm never going to get a girlfriend. How do I get to go and I was pining away in my mind not very crowded the time when I'm crude means that I would say. Hey girl you wanted to dance or so they would look at me this go away you idiot and now are you

17:45 Shopko said that made me angry to have caused by leaf.

17:49 A jackpot

17:52 Pound to see a little girl on the park bench and picked her up and she went along and I told him I got my I got it made this is so easy but no problem at all. If you got in my car and away we went after that not a year later, they're married. And so did you expect that you would end up with five children. Did you know that you were going to have some giant family and moved to California? And no, I like. That we will get married in love each other forever. And then the question the first baby came with your two year old lady wasn't that long after we got married and if I should have a baby here and it would I know it is water at my age what I know about being a father so I gave her the job to be the father and the mother.

18:37 So the next thing you know, next one came along holding my go to wish going great. Nice family go there then the Bills game.

18:45 And once the girls. To come then I had to work a little harder. So I work night not fix, today time in the street.

18:52 So I have a few extra dollars here in that and then little by little like I got more oriented being a father.

18:59 And the today's date, I mustache you. I was a good father bad father. I thought I was doing good until course when I hear from my daughter's then you should say is that that she's your dad means something's wrong with me. But there were some you know, it seems like

19:17 As your daughter it seemed like there were certain values that you kept passing along to us. One of those values was to work hard one of the another one of the values that I really feel like was imparted on me was that school was really important and that I had to get an education and that family like even when I never wanted to you know, what I didn't want to talk to my family or I was mad about something it was you got to stay in close contact with your family there certain values and you know, Mom was always

19:51 Talking to me about kind of being my own person and making an thinking about things critically in my own life. So maybe you could talk about but you know, I have I have daughters and I want them to be able to have hear from you about the kind of values that is your up with them to have your I want them to have the benefit of your words of wisdom. Do you want to be when I grew up we give to the Jewish holidays and and stuff like that on this habits. We didn't write or do any work and there was a time when I said God I'm writing I watched it a response from God, but they normally I felt that whether there was a Holiday Inn.

20:51 Is important that you had to you know, give it to your time and effort that would like one. There was the holiday where you fast all day. Oh and then everyone went to the East River to throw their sins away in the tour the evening and enjoying the day you had not to eat and that was very difficult for me. But anyway to give you an idea of how we were religious. I signed myself into the into Hebrew school.

21:33 Because I was right next to the library, which was very important in my life and they didn't answer so I brought my mother after that to let you know seal the deal and I loved going to Hebrew school. I went four days a week.

21:54 We went well we would did go on Friday, but we went the other day. So then I have to say cuz what I'm really talking about is the kind of values that you have that you would pass on to me and to the to the Next Generation. So when you see that, we're not Ultra religious Jewish, but we're not Ultra does it feel like you didn't like there was a time at some point where you I mean, I feel like I'm definitely Jewish.

22:28 But I didn't you didn't seem to demand that we were very religious when I was growing out of the blood sugar adult.

22:39 Because what I was in the dump and my mother would come and say or I brought this candy because I know you're not Kosher so I didn't want to eat anything here. But or she would make some criticism about the fact that I was cleaning. I should take my children outside to get fresh air. And so that criticism I didn't like that and I didn't want to pass it on and I felt that if you were an adult you had looked at the whole the whole sphere of things and you had decided what you were going to do and that would be okay with me. I mean you weren't for committing a crime, but if you want or wanted to choose to live a certain way down towards your way.

23:39 You say that then does it make you feel like when you looked so that was an idea that you had write your value then you look at each one of your children.

23:50 And look at how they were having their families and going through life. And did you feel proud of that or did you didn't give you and you know that without the criticism then did you feel like oh you're each doing I trusted them to do a good things I would.

24:11 Each one as they raised their family. I thought well, they're smart enough to do it right to do it the way it should be done.

24:22 To Dad when you think about kind of the values that you have had

24:27 And the values that you want to impart on your family that you wanted them part in your family. What were those things and why were there and how do you think it turned out to to get intelligent and I think that's the best way to get ahead. If you want to get ahead and go get the things you wanted out of life what it tells you if your a stupid expression or backward. It's more difficult than you depend upon somebody take care of you.

24:57 If you want to be your own place, and that's how I felt. So I advance that advice to you guys the older children and then don't it don't seem like you got it at first but it did develop into thinking good things cuz she'll went to college Jackie went to college. Larry went to college you went to me. It is a great great things happens and I told mommy did a great job taking taking care of you.

25:38 When I try to make the money part of it, she made the social part of it.

25:46 But I have no regrets. I am glad that you're going to all the kids out and have children not all of them. But the weather has chill. Bringing him up the right way. I have little things. I like that Josh, but that's not my thing to do and I think it'll turn out and fight the standing up to the better as it is. In fact, I think it's better than the one we had you.

26:08 Courtyard your daughters having kids so we meeting and have things that we want it all the time but his hit with a needle the time of wanting something so used to get them wanting you have to work harder for that. Nobody gives you everything but she has a depression past we were both well and now we have to go to work for a shelf.

26:36 That's tough one, but I am not angry about that. I really I'm glad they stopped at because you're not going to do your thing. Then you you worked at it.

26:46 Did you want to add to that Mom?

26:48 Pause jail, but I forgot. Well, so I guess you know, I don't realize it but I don't think I remember but mom used to take you every night. You only but everyone every kid one of the time weather went to bed and sometimes with two at a time in bed. So it's good that you and read your stories to read to me until I was in 4th grade after I g43x depriving me of how are you

27:28 So I said come on you that's enough story 7 tonight get the red and in the morning. I have knock on the wall. Get you out of bed. Let's go back to you when?

27:44 You know you have you have seen so much your 87 years old in your 85 years old. You've seen so much in your life. Are there any big lessons that you learned along the way big lessons that you feel like you would like us to be able to have the benefit of your learning?

28:03 Are there certain things that you learned that you think of this is easy? I learned this I could pass this on to one thing when I would see somebody I'd start to tell them about myself and all those things and then I realized I'm watching other people.

28:29 You know, I wasn't giving the other person to a chance. I'll buy you asking questions about them.

28:37 And I think that I realized that that was something that I omitted that worked on one more thing. I wanted to tell you. I talked Gilton it and that became a big part of her life. Now that she's retired especially because every time you need a goddamn little sweaters for for the people that you have friends children and for her child and everything like that and one more thing, I don't want to leave out there was a time when we were living in West Islip when it was very cold outside.

29:25 Many many years and I had a fart coat a sore. So I took the barcode apart and I put it inside her coat.

29:43 So she had suddenly had a coat that had fur inside and she could go outside. Of course. There was still the shoes that got wet and cold and eventually they came inside we put plastic bags on their feet tied tied them and show them when they went outside the cold wasn't coming through the the snow wasn't coming through. So so you were able to teach every what you had the creativity and you had the industrious you or your industry industrious. You taught us all to be industrious.

30:24 So Mom, I want to ask that again. Is there any lessons in life that you've learned or dad that you want your family to know that you want your family to be able to benefit from?

30:41 Go ahead dad, but I think there's a given taken life.

30:48 And things changed over the years since I was growing up. I thought you said I do and that meant for life and when I see things have changed in the last 20 or 25 years people don't like each other after five or six years. They sell it's a long time and they get a divorce and they leave the family which they might have children in distress and things change and I think it's changing the attitude of society little bit but people now what mixed up

31:17 So why I think that did a given take you if you want to stay married and you want to keep your status.

31:27 Halo loving wife that you really love you always love your wife and your husband or your wife always love your husband. There's no reason for any kind of break up or you're just talk it out or cool off. Sometimes you can't talk about this too much meanness in one of the other

31:43 That's my my way of taking life lessons life lessons that you want to pass along that you want your family to know. What are the things that I found out valued was sometimes when you help someone else you really help yourself because you do something that makes you feel good that you that you will accomplish something that someone could really

32:21 I did this for about 7 years and and I remember it and I really value that that I went around to people and yeah, well help them and was there it was a friend in need.

32:40 That that I was the friended me and that that they needed to to talk to someone to talk to and then type of stress at work and I never volunteered for anything. That's a different roles loud and clear that you guys were partnership for a different roles.

33:04 So if you know that's not I'm not surprised by that. I wanted to say that I went I went to Hebrew school. I value that died still said you would I learned to ride in Hebrew and stuff like that and that was a good time but good blessing. Okay, I want you to tell me about unless that's a really important you of course. I have to die. I don't want to I don't want to linger on that. But I think that it's interesting that you were talking a lot about how much you have valued being Jewish and you're Jewish Education in your Jewish life, but it is interesting because we didn't all all of your children didn't marry Jewish people.

33:55 And you've always accepted that and you all what you never even if you never even thought twice. I don't know if you ever thought twice about it, but you certainly didn't say you did so I want you going to talk about that for one minute and then I want to move on to the next question. How did you feel about that? We brought all these other people in that. We're not Jewish. Well, yes, it wouldn't would Larry got it and they outside of the church. That was all right to him. I felt that he decided to do that. Nothing was okay, but I did when my mother said she wanted to visit and she was going to louse things up. I figured that was not all right for her.

34:42 I did want to bring her into the thing for her to scorned. But when Ray and Joel married Ray and he was not Jewish and I married Matt and Sharon married Jim and each one of you have welcomed. He's one of those that you have welcomed them into the family and made them ever found them. Then I will come to us so that it turned out very good. We have probably about 5 minutes left. I think that the last thing is my kids are going to hear this and you know, everyone will hear this again and again, and so if you had something that you wanted like, is there something that you want everyone to Remember You by like how do you want to be remembered what what things when we when people talk about you?

35:42 I know that's a big question and it takes longer than 5 minutes. But if there are few things that you could sort of

35:50 Things that you think were important about you or that you felt proud of that you have done that you want us to remember you by what would they be?

36:02 What do you want to think about it for me to send with with about four minutes looking for charity begins at home first and foremost and I never regretted having a different religions mixed up in my family. I thought that if the girls loved the guy and the guy loved the girl and they want to be happy, that's what we go to be happy and have a life and it worked out very fine. We have the League of Nations we can we can we can entertain people from any part of the world and then think that like Brethren and that's the way it should have been a long time ago their own kind which was shot at restricting remember about you being inclusive.

37:01 Yeah, I know and that sounds like a bunch of garbage. But did I am a nice guy deep inside? I am a nice guy. So just think about me is a nice guy. I like your kids. I like the living primarily. No. No, I take that back girls and like Gracie and I like all the rest of the kids that have been going up and I think they like me who accept Apple Tennessee. Is there some way that you would want everyone to think about you.

37:35 Or that you want to say it you can also say about what you think about them. How you feel about it's okay?

37:44 You know.

37:48 I am lost two brothers.

37:51 I had two brothers that died.

37:55 Add dog and usually people light a candle at the anniversary of the the person Steph and I don't do that, but I think about them everyday.

38:10 I didn't make Daddy Eddie special deal about them, but that doesn't mean that that I ever forget them.

38:22 Or hot what they meant to be.

38:30 Bright

38:31 They were a big part of my family, but I think that that what that translates into for me is that you're saying you are. You're a big part of everyone you're a big part of his family and that

38:49 You will be thought of them woven into everyone's everyone's living in everyone's day-to-day and that and that you want to be thought of in the in the big things but in the small things also, is that right? Okay, sounds good to me. So we're wrapping up we have about a minute left. Is there anything that you want to say that I didn't ask you about that kind of everyone will know Jill went to college or then she realized she came back during Christmas time and she realized how I missed her. So she gave me this little clay doll that could sit at home at my house and then I could look at my girl and

39:49 If I stay in one spot, so that's just something that I remembered that I wanted it pass on.

39:59 Does there anything else that you want to say the like when I say but I'll say it. Anyway, I didn't like the idea that I mean, I'm sorry. It happened that The Jacka got divorced and she now was alone with two kids that didn't like her because it took the father's side and now I'm feeling a little better about it because she's making her own life for herself aside from the fact that her kids now, it's not to like her which would didn't happen before so that's what it close up the Gap love the things that I didn't like and a lot of things I didn't like but me and Mommy will find that out there this year straighten me out. If I straighten up you feel pleased with it doesn't feel like the end of a long road. That was no.

40:59 The future belongs to you and your children. Don't forget your kids training with intelligence and they'll go on their own and they'll be smart people and help whatever you going to do.

41:12 I love you too, little girls and think about them all the time and think of 100. I have this maybe I should give them this and I'm always planning for what to give them. When I see them anytime. You have a something new with each family that you think about.

41:34 Okay. Alright, so I want it thank you just for like coming to the booth with me and doing this interview. I could have asked you a thousand question and I could have been here like it makes me feel like I should be here with you each week. So I will need to wrap this up. But thank you so much for being in the interview and I love you so much for asking for being interested in what we thought I just want one real quick. I hope you don't fall asleep within 15 minutes cancel it.